Restaurant creator Steve Schussler has a Donald Trump business story that is a showstopper!
However, telling the Trump story — I’ve been sworn to secrecy — is inconsistent with Schussler’s new low-key style.
The restaurant showman has gone so sub rosa that I had to read on Facebook about his recent marriage to Sunhi Ryan, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Schussler Creative.
“I told the rabbi ‘I can’t believe it actually happened’ and the rabbi said I can’t believe it either,” said the wife who will be known as Sunhi Ryan Schussler.
“That is the line of the century, to have a rabbi [in this case Marcia Zimmerman] say that,” smiled Steve.
Fun and antics are cornerstones of my friendship with this creative genius, who repeatedly illustrates how to take an idea from imagination to bricks and mortar.
The word can’t isn’t in Schussler’s vocabulary, and neither has relaxation been a favorite term of the man who sleeps about five hours a night. Learning to fully relax has became a new part of Schussler’s demeanor, which underwent a change earlier this year after an executive check-up at Mayo Clinic. This trip to Mayo was excellent for Schussler’s health and might also be good for business as he made a most unexpected connection. The details of the start of a possible new business relationship are pretty funny. You’ll get the full picture from the online version as I had to harshly edit Schussler’s retelling of the encounter in the video.
After Schussler’s sobering Mayo examination in Rochester, he was given serious pause about the health of his Mom, Gloria who lives in Mexico. Things are looking great for the mother who probably never imagined her committed-bachelor son becoming a married man.
Q: You got married!
A: I got married!
Q: I wouldn’t have bet money on that, same way I wouldn’t have put money on the USA electing a black guy president or that a woman will be elected in 2016.
A: You’re very funny. It took me 61 years to find the right woman; a great lady. We’ve been together 13 years. And in untypically Steve Schussler style, I wanted to make certain that we did it for the sake of us getting married and not necessarily for bigger than life [celebrating]. So we were kind of low-key about it. We postponed the wedding from last year, as many people know, especially the 325 people we invited. We thought the best way to get married was to not make an announcement. We went to temple and talked to [a] rabbi at Temple Israel, just an amazing woman. She looked at her calendar and she said How about next Thursday the 8th at 7 o’clock at night? Sunhi said Those are two really good numbers. Works on the 8th and it works at 7 o’clock at night. We got married with no fanfare. Very happy.
Q: Good. You lost about 35 pounds but not so you’d look good in your wedding photo. You started dropping weight before you got married.
A: Just to be healthy and live. A visit to the Mayo Clinic for a checkup does wonders for your brain. [Knowing head nod]
Q: How’s my friend, your mom?
A: Interestingly enough she’s 83 years old. I’d like to thank all my friends and everybody who supported me in the fact that I love my mother. She needed a kidney transplant. She refused to get dialysis. She was promised a kidney by somebody and they went through all the tests and passed and [the donor’s] family talked her out of it. So my mother was destined for not so great things and all of a sudden a friend of hers, who is 70 years old became a match and a donor. Last week my mother got a kidney transplant. She is out of the hospital in Mexico where she lives. My 83 year old mother might live another 15 years. THAT is amazing. You’ve always been very generous. Some people know because I’ve told the story, that one time when I invited you to an event my mother happened to be at, it was cold and you gave her your socks. But for my mother’s friend, who’s 70 to give one of his kidneys. That’s a whooooole different gift. Friends are friends and I love you for the socks and I love him for the kidney.
Q: How did you get “Wheel of Fortune,” down to your restaurant The Boathouse in Disney Springs?
A: Great food, waterfront dining. Pat Sajak and Vanna White were doing a huge segment and they wanted to do some things happening in Orlando at their theme parks and as Disney. They picked The Boathouse and amphicar rides on the lake. We are still the only place, not in North America, not in South America, not [just] in the United States. We are the only place in the world that’s commercially running amphicars that were made from 1962 to 1967 which were considered the worst boat and the worst car in the world. We’re running them every day. Averaging about 85 rides a day. Pat and Vanna are going to be featured taking a ride around them in Disney World. [It didn’t happen as planned. There was no footage of them floating off in the cars on “Wheel of Fortune” but that enormous s’mores baked Alaska created by Chef Bob Getchell did make it onto the TV show, which airs here at 6:30 p.m. on WCCO-TV, the CBS station, and into the mouths of Sajak and White.]
Q: Back when you were dating you were what I would call a legendary serial monogamist.
A: I decided I didn’t want to get married. That’s because everybody in my family is divorced.
Q: OK. But some of your friends who were married men were not such good monogamists. How did you square that?
A: I never squared it. [Laugh] I never worried about it. Just let everybody do what they want. I’m for everyone being happy.
Q: However, you did not hesitate to call me when you thought I was cheating on the man I will describe as my first husband? Remember that?
A: Yes, I sure do. That was a pretty funny time.
Q: You were at a restaurant at a table near a window with your buddy John Goodman [who died this year], right?
A: I was with John Goodman, looking out a window watching you walk down the street holding somebody’s hand. And I though. “Hmmm. There goes somebody who should be wearing a hat.” [As in a disguise]. I called you up on the phone and I said “Where’s Tony?” [in a sneering, accusatory tone]. I guess that was Tony. [He’d done what Schussler did; dropped a lot of weight.]
Q: Remember that old girlfriend of yours who wanted you to make me sign a confidentiality agreement before you showed me the dinosaurs and other stuff you have in the warehouse that were part of your T-Rex concept? She said you couldn’t trust me because I was media.
A: I don’t have a lot of nice things to say necessarily about statements individuals ever make about not trusting the press. I have an incredible relationship with you and others.
Q: Have you ever met anyone interesting while you were having a colonoscopy, I say, leading the witness?
A: Oh my God. What a place to visualize meeting someone. The most incredible experience I’ve ever had as I went to Mayo Clinic to get what they call “an executive checkup” and while I’m in this room waiting for colonoscopy. There are three other gentlemen. One was fully dressed, which was weird. The other two like myself, has robes on, no underwear — what a visual that is. On the TV is “The Price is Right” and the doctor comes in and [collects] one of the gentlemen and that left me and another gentleman and the fully clothed gentleman, who I later found out was an aide. I said “I’d rather watch the news, would you mind?” He took off his glasses and he put down his computer and said ‘not at all,’ and he had this big smile. And I said “where are you from,” and he said Abu Dhabi. He starts talking and he tells me how he feeds 150,000 people a day and he owns 20 businesses. I said wait. We have [restaurant] laboratories here in Minnesota. We create the world’s best attractions, restaurants and retail stores. When you get out of your colonoscopy, “we’ve gotta talk!” We just kept talking and talking, developing this relationship, then the nurse called him in and another nurse called me in and when we were all done with our colonoscopies we met outside with his handler and my now wife, Sunhi. We all went to lunch. The next day he went through my laboratories in Minnesota — Golden Valley and St. Louis Park. Then I went to Orlando to Disney World to check out my restaurants. He followed me. He then followed me to Chicago. Then he followed me back to Minnesota. And he sent me tickets and Sunhi I spent 10 days in Abu Dhabi. We might just be doing business with all of our concepts and we MIGHT just be opening a laboratory like we have in Golden Valley, Minnesota, of our own called Schussler Creative featuring concepts we’ve already created and new concepts in their own country for them in Abu Dhabi. It’s an incredible experience, all over meeting a gentleman, getting a colonoscopy at the Mayo Clinic.
Q: What’s going on in Shanghai?
A: Well, we opened up this past June in Shanghai, China, at Disneytown, which is equivalent to Orlando’s Disney Springs. The shopping, the entertainment, lots of restaurants; soon to have the boats and the dock and it’s our second Boathouse. Very, very excited to be at Disney’s new theme park in Shanghai. It’s an honor.
Q: How will you know when you have too many pictures on the walls around here?
A: When there’s not enough space. As a matter of fact you won’t let me take your picture.
Q: There a picture of me up there.
A: That’s a picture from 10 years ago and I think you are even better looking now. I want another picture.
Q: You’re losing your eyesight, but continue, although there’ll be no new pictures until Bob McNamara takes them after Terra H. does my makeup and hair.
A: Life is good. We’re getting older.
C.J. can be reached at email@example.com and seen on Fox 9’s “Jason Show.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count.